Blogging photographs from the west of Ireland and beyond

Airbnb.com freelance photography assignment- an opportunity not worth taking

Today I thought that I’d change my usual solely photobased posting habits in order to tell followers of my blog and the world wide web at large of my experiences working as a freelance photographer for the popular travel accommodation site airbnb. These experiences were not good and since a lot of people who visit my blog may well be photographers themselves and might get scouted by airbnb to work for them just as I was, I thought I should let you know that I think it’s a thoroughly bad idea.

About 2 months ago now, a worker for airbnb saw my photos on this site and posted in my about section that airbnb would like to hire me for some freelance photographic assignments. I jumped at this opportunity to expand my portfolio, make a little pocket money, and see a little more of the countryside whilst on the job.

Right from the off this seemed like a great chance for me, and within hours of signing up, my dashboard was filled to capacity with 5 jobs around Galway city which could net me nearly 300 euros for a day’s work. Optimistic I know, but even if it took a month to take these pictures I’d have been happy to be making something off of my photography. As it turned out, these jobs had already been given to other photographers, I found this out after waiting for a couple of weeks and getting no response from hosts who apparently never needed photos of their listings taken, or messages from other hosts saying they’d already had their shots taken by somebody else.

After deleting all but one job from my formerly heaving dashboard, I was happy to at least to be able to try my hand at one job which also happened to take me out to a nice part of Galway out at Kinvara. This job was nearly 30 kilometers away though, and airbnb only give a travel allowance for 15 k, so I was immediately going to be out of pocket after getting the bus out, but what the hell I thought, the 50 euros will cover it and I’ll still have the experience anyhow.

To cut a long story short, I did the job, enjoyed it, uploaded the photos sharpish, and then waited for a month to be told that my photos didn’t fit the bill and I’d have to reshoot the property. None of my queries since that rejection nearly 2 weeks ago have been replied to.

Working for airbnb has been a frustrating experience for me, leaving me as broke as when I began, alongside an unhappy client who has been waiting to have their listing photographed for months and who also doesn’t receive any response from airbnb to their queries.

I wrote this post so that anybody else in the same position as me two months ago, excited by the prospect of some freelance photography work, happy to sign a contract with airbnb which basically leaves them completely bereft of their rights as photographers, knows that it’s not such a great prospect as it seems, and learns from my lapses of judgement.

Here is a copy of my correspondence with airbnb just so that people can see how inept their communications really are.

Also, let me know if anybody else has any other experiences with airbnb, either good or bad, perhaps I was just unlucky, though I do doubt it.

As well, here are some of the shots that I took of the listing out at Kinvara, let me know if there’s something I’m missing and in fact they are terrible!

Dear whomever it concerns,

I am writing this letter to whomever it concerns, because I have no idea who is actually going to read this email and respond. Another of airbnb’s little quirks is that workers for your company don’t even deem it necessary to sign off on their correspondence and actually let me know who I’m addressing, but nonetheless I’ll persevere in speaking to an imagined receiver of this email.

Surely airbnb realise that if somebody sends me a message concerning my work that I should be able to speak to that person directly, instead of going round in circles sending emails to god knows who, but it seems clear that airbnb have no interest in making their photographer’s lives any easier, or even their own for that matter judging by how inept your company handles something as basic as giving a photographer and job and then paying them for it.

My work has just been rejected for a listing for the second time by the same person, yet I’ve got no facility to ask this person what they found wrong with my work. The person who seems to have rejected my work is an airbnb auditor called Schidume. On the 21st of March, 7 working days after I had uploaded my shoot, I finally got a response from this auditor. In airbnb’s own photography manual it says that photographers will be paid within 2-5 business days of a photographer uploading their work. Why can airbnb not meet the very standards they themselves set in their photography manual? Also why do they set themselves standards they can’t keep to and don’t refer to, nor apologise for the fact they are breaking their agreement with me.

In this message Schidume writes: Some of these images are a bit too dark. It is better for Airbnb’s purposes if our photographers error on the side of overexposure, utilizing as much natural light as possible. That way, the images will always be bright, clean and inviting. Please lighten these images up and resubmit so that we may pay you promptly.

Strange I thought to myself, airbnb asking photographer’s to overexpose their photos, which goes against my training as a photographer, but you’re the boss I said to myself as I then re-edited my photos to meet airbnb’s standards.

Surely now I can finally get paid I thought, having done exactly as airbnb asked me to do.

I then waited another week to get another rejection email from this mysterious Schidume auditor.

Here is what he now wrote to me, which seemed bizarrely different from what I was told the week before:

Hi Feargal, After taking a second look at this shoot, I’m sorry but I cannot accept it. The angles that you shot just don’t tell me much about the space. What kind of lens are you using? The images are too tight and this place looks quite spacious. I need to ask that you go back and re-shoot. Please take a look at this:http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/361793 I was the photographer for this listing. I’m using a 10-20mm lens and a standard 18-55mm lens for some of the closer shots. I did not use a flash, all natural lighting, with a combination of indoor lighting. All the windows were open . That way I didn’t relay on a flash, and I didn’t have to use my tripod either. This is what I’m expecting to see from all of our photographers. It looks like this place had a pretty nice amount of natural light, so it really shouldn’t be a problem. Verify you focus/sharpness and take multiple shots. For the shoot I’m showing you, I took about 80 images. They were not all great, but that way you will have options. I understand that not places will look ideal, but here are some things to take in consideration: exposure, color balance, sharpness, composition. Make sure that all the windows are open, turn on all the lights, make sure your horizon lines are straight. We don’t really want images of the exterior, unless there’s something special about it. Thanks! I really hope this helps you have more successful shoots. Trust me, I don’t like rejecting shoots Thanks! Shidume

Now I feel quite certain that whoever is reading this email on behalf of airbnb can discern that there is no logical link between these two messages that I’ve received from this enigmatic Schidume character. The first photos were fine, but a little too dark, make them lighter and you’ll get paid is what he said in his first critique of my images. Yet now that he’s taken a second look he can see that now all the angles are wrong and that my photos are now useless and that I have to reshoot the entire listing.

Please do explain to me how the same images can metamorphose themselves according to the whims of Schidume. Either the photos were wrong to begin with and this Schidume fellow wasted another few hours of my life by directing me to tinker with photos that he didn’t want to begin with. Or else, this character Schidume doesn’t really know his arse from his elbow when it comes to photography and doesn’t even have the skills in auditing to at least be consistent in his criticism and rejection of good photographic work.

This second email seems to me a completely generic message layout for rejecting photos also, it doesn’t address any specific issues with my photos whatsoever. It says “the angles that I shot don’t tell me much about the space” How exactly is this the case? can airbnb provide me with some examples of these bad angles? Airbnb direct photographers to shoot into corners, which is exactly what I did, landscape aspect? check. Wide angle lens? check etc. etc. Schidume even has the cheek to tell me that the place looks spacious. Schidume hasn’t actually seen this listing presumably, so how does he know it looks spacious? I guess my photographs are the only way that he could tell how somewhere looks? therefore my photos make the place look spacious, so what in the world is he complaining about?!?!

Some of the rooms in the listing where in fact very small, for some shots of the bedroom i actually had to go outside and shoot through the window to make the place look more spacious, but of course Schidume knows better than me or the people who own the listing about how it looks and how it should be shot. Throughout my shoot I engaged with the hosts and asked them what aspects they would like to show off in their place and I even give them a quick preview of some of the shots that I was taking. They seemed very happy with how my photos were showing off their space, why is it that airbnb seem to know better than the photographer and the owner of a listing regarding how it should look?

Schidume also provides a link that shows off some of his great photographic work presumably as aspirational material to failed photographers like myself. This is the link that he provides -:http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/361793.

Most of these photos are quite good and showcase the listing quite well, though they are all very much over exposed. There are shots in this group though, which as a photographer I find downright offensive. There are shots included in this set of photos that are quite obviously stitches of two different photos placed together at odd and confusing angles. There is a shot of the bathrrom and one of the bedroom that are edited and stuck together in this erratic manner which tells the photographs’ viewers nothing about the actual place and is in fact utterly confusing. Are airbnb saying that this is how I should take my photos, stick together two photos shot at different angles in order to get paid? Schidume then goes onto give me a beginner’s lesson in what a photograph is and how I might go about taking it. At this stage he is talking in utter irrelevancies, “use natural light and a tripod” “make sure your images are sharp” he says. Why do i have to be told this, none of these were highlighting as issues in the 25 plus shots that i submitted so why in the email that explains why my photos got rejected is this person going off in such tangents?? Schidume took 80 shots for this shoot. Well done Schidume, I took over 100 for mine and spent over 2 hours photographing this host’s listing. I could still make use of these images and resubmit photos that are to airbnb’s tastes, but I don’t even believe that airbnb knows what the hell they are looking for from their photographers. And if they do know, it doesn’t excuse the fact they are appallingly bad at communicating these requirements to their photographers. Schidume also questions what lens I used etc? Well surely Schidume can look at the icc profile embedded into each of my pictures if he is curious about how I took any of my shots? I actually shot all the photographs of this listing at a minimum of 18mm wide angled. If this wasn’t wide enough for airbnb and they prefer super wide photography then they should make it a requirement for photographers before they photograph a listing and not after. I followed all of airbnbs guidelines and manuals in order to shoot this job who they wanted it be shot. I see no way that I have broken my contract or taken substandard shots. I therefore demand to be paid for the many hours that I have already put into this job.

The rejection email that I received is just another in a long list of quite bizarre and utterly confusing requests and statements that I’ve received from Airbnb since I was scouted by your company over a month ago. Right from when I received 5 jobs into my dashboard almost immediately only to find out that they’d all actually been given out to other photographers already when I emailed the hosts, I knew that airbnb is not an efficient nor trustworthy company. Then when I kept receiving jobs into my dashboard from places as far away as Cork- a 3 hour drive away, then I knew this freelance gig wasn’t as great as it seemed. All these elements display hopeless inefficiencies in communication within airbnb that makes it look like the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing and that it’s not even really worthwhile for myself trying to communicate with your company at the end of the day, cause you don’t even seem to know how to talk amongst yourselves.

All that I demand is that I get paid for the freelance work that I’ve done with airbnb until a satisfactory reason is given why I shouldn’t be paid.

If airbnb refuse to fairly pay me for the work that I carried out for your company, then I shall give the hosts the photos that they deserve anyhow after being screwed around for a month by your company. I shall also badmouth your company and your freelance assignments through the vehicles of my popular photoblog and website and the many other photographic communities than I am a member of. I shall do this so that any prospective airbnb photographer similar to myself one month ago, googling airbnb after I was approached approached with work, shall know the true hazards of working for your company and they won’t make the same mistakes that I did in trying to carry out good work for you and actually hoping to get paid for the pleasure.

Regards,

Feargal Norton

——————————————————————————–
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2012 09:45:58 -0400
Subject: Re: rejected submission
From: photography@airbnb.com
To: feargal_norton@hotmail.com

Hi Feargal,

If both jobs are back in your accepted section, this means that both were rejected. They came back into Accepted at different times because they were reviewed and rejected at different times. You should have a rejection email for both. Please check your spam folder.

I did not reject the jobs so I do not know exactly why they were rejected. You mentioned the auditor said the photos were too dark. You also mention the number of photos. We require at least 10, so 20 for each is sufficient.

You will be paid 50 euros + travel for each.

I’m sorry you are receiving far away jobs. This is a bug that we have right now, and we’re working on it as fast as possible. In the meantime, please decline any jobs that are too far away.

I hope this clears everything up.

On Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 7:14 AM, Feargal Norton wrote:

Hi,

I think my question is pretty clear really. I took pictures of one residency for airbnb out at Crannagh, Kinvara, Co. Galway. This consisted of accepting two different jobs for one residential listing from airbnb, a job listing the double bedroom, and another job listing the en-suite in the same building. I treated them as two different jobs and took about 20 pictures of each listing. I then uploaded two separate sets of pictures for each. Only one set of these pictures was apparently rejected though for being too dark, and I’m not sure what happened to the other set of photos. When I was rejected there is only one job in my completed jobs section listed as completed but rejected, so I only had the option of reuploading for one job, whereas I had uploaded for two. Now the listing is back as two different jobs in my accepted jobs section, can’t you see how this seems strange?

I want airbnb to make it clear whether they want 20 pictures of one listing for the job, or if they want 40 for the two listing, and whether I am going to get paid 100 euros for my work or 50. I don’t see how I can make myself much clearer, and I really think airbnb should be making life a lot easier for their freelance photographers.

I have been given jobs that have been sent to many different photographers at once already, when I was led to believe a job is only sent to one photographer at a time, though hosts have told me this very much was not the case. I have also been given jobs offers from all over the country, instead of my local area. I’ve had jobs sent to me for Cork city which is a 3 hour drive away, as well as two others that have been over 50 miles away. A 15 dollar allowance simply doesn’t cover such trips, so I’m not interested in these jobs.

So please clarify these issues for me, so I can upload the pictures that I have taken already for airbnb, and perhaps in the future even take some more.

Regards,

Feargal Norton

——————————————————————————–
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 11:00:04 -0400
Subject: Re: rejected submission
From: photography@airbnb.com
To: feargal_norton@hotmail.com

Hi Feargal,

25 photos is just the right amount for each listing.

Sounds like both listings were rejected because the auditor wants you to edit them. So, please edit and resubmit.

I’m afraid I’m not clear on what you are confused about. If you can clarify a bit more, I should be able to assist better.

On Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 9:19 AM, Feargal Norton wrote:

Hi,

I’ve just been told that my images for my job photographing a listing at Kinvara, Co. Galway have been rejected for being too dark. This is fine, and if airbnb think so I can resubmit them looking a little bit brighter without much of a problem. However, I’m confused as to how airbnb are sending me this job and how I’m supposed to respond. I accepted this listing as two different jobs, taking two different sets of pictures of different rooms. This added up to about 25 pictures submitted for the 2 different listings, however, when the job was rejected it went back to one job listing, and now it’s back in my accepted jobs, it’s back to two different listings again.

Can you explain what the meaning of this is, and how I am supposed to approach photographing and uploading listings when airbnb seem to keep confusing what a job entails?

I would like to know how many photographs I am expected to upload and how many jobs I am actually supposed to carry out so I can successfully complete my work as a freelance photographer for airbnb.

Regards,

Feargal Norton

——————————————————————————–
From: feargal_norton@hotmail.com
To: photography@airbnb.com
Subject: getting paid
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:15:47 +0000

Hi,

I was just wondering why I haven’t been paid for the completed jobs that I have done for air bnb despite having uploaded pictures more than 5 days ago?

Regards,

Feargal Norton

55 Responses

  1. artylu

    I was contacted by Airbnb after they saw my photos via Flickr. At first, I too, received assignments that their clients did not even want shot. After the 3rd or 4th assignment, I finally got someone who wanted me to shot the photos for them. I finished my 1st assignment almost 3 weeks ago, and I rushed home and had them uploaded on the same day. Well, it has been almost 3 weeks, and they are not showing up on their website, and I have not been paid. I did contact the company, and they told me they were going through changes with their photo editors, and it was taking a bit longer. The people that they are really hurting are the clients that are trying to get their properties advertised. I feel sorry
    for the lady who was trying to get her property listed.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:05 am

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing atylu, I’m glad that I’m not alone in experiencing how terrible airbnb operate the photography side of their business (well kind of). I too feel like the clients get the roughest side of the deal. It’s no walk in the park to be a photographer for airbnb, but at least we have some idea what is going on, to be a client who has let somebody into their house for an hour or two, only to wait months in limbo to find out if they are actually going to get any photos out of the experience is utterly ridiculous and i’m sure very frustrating.

    April 17, 2012 at 7:01 am

  3. Kevin K.

    Damn. I’ve shot 7 properties and still haven’t gotten paid. My photos are still in a “pending” state – neither approved nor rejected.

    I could really use the money right now (that’s why most of of take on side jobs, right?) and all I hear from Airbnb is that they are experiencing a backlog of photos to approve.

    When Airbnb recruited me, I was told that photographers almost always get paid in “less than 7 days”.

    I hope this whole ordeal isn’t a scam.

    Kevin

    April 19, 2012 at 1:37 am

    • Yes a familiar story alright, I have yet to hear one good word about airbnb and their freelance photography. I can’t see how it’s legal to have it in the contract that you will be paid in 2-5 business days and then make absoloutely no effort to pay photographers in that time. An airbnbn contract seems to be a totally meaningless agreement to me, you have my sympathies waiting for the incredible number of seven jobs to be paid for. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      April 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

  4. Don

    Hi, hope I’m not too late to the party, but I was invited as a shooter back in June-July last year and I noticed that it’s getting stodgier and more plodding to the point where I was terminated with my blessings.

    When I started out, payment was fairly quick and painless. The system was less automated, but turnover was fairly quick and only a few shots were rejected for a few consistency issues that a quick trip through Lightroom can fix. The pay still wasn’t good and sometimes I had to travel for hours to get somewhere, but it was very consistent and I was doing 5-6 jobs a week.

    I’ve dealt with Shidume before and while her portfolio has some great pieces, I don’t think she has a proper eye in seeing some of the things portrayed. Half of the time I’ve dealt with her, she’s complaining asking for even angled shots when in actuality half of the shots given bragging rights on the frontpage break the rules she’s laid down. At one point she even complained to me about not using a wide enough lens when she didn’t even look at the exif data to begin with. She also has a confused idea of understanding how lighting works in an interior setting since she thought I was using a hotshoe diffuser all the time (I actually use radio remotes). I also find it disturbing at how I basically have to push my raws to the point of overexposure limits just to fit her desire for “well-lit” areas.

    I should also add that while she wants very “flat” images, most of the time your assignments will involve very limited spaces with clients who want you to hide their clutter. She seems to be unaware that this is a common issue and mentioning this to her takes half a week before she finally answers with a cookie cutter remark and another link to one of her previous works.

    The final blow that got me sick of this was when she ended up taking too long to inspect my images and one client was against my neck about how long it was taking to get the photos approved. One client I had took three weeks before they gave a verdict and it ended with a rejection anyway.

    The assignment after this involved me wasting over an hour taking the photos (not including postprod) since it was a large house. Despite this, I managed to submit the edited material within 24 hours. This entire wait took me three weeks of trying to assuage the client that it was going to get inspected soon enough, until I finally received a complaint from another head of the photography section that seemed confused as well. Of course I already broke the message to Shidume earlier and it took this complaint to finally get her to approve all my images, after which I was fired for one assignment’s “too extreme” shots which were ironically asked for specifically by the client.

    So to tl;dr:
    -4-5 hours for 50-60 bucks apiece
    -Resident pro does not understand interior lighting, let alone exif data
    -3 weeks of trying to calm down client when it wasn’t my job
    -Blamed for client’s choices

    April 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    • Thanks very much Don for such a fantastically detailed account of the troubled life of an airbnb freelancer. I can completely sympathise with all the frustrations that you’ve encountered with your time for airbnb even though I ended up shooting just one job.

      I find it amazing that this Schidume character has so much power over whether photographers get paid when she herself is so inconsistent with how she shoots properties and contradictory in the advice that she offers.

      After recieving two contradictory rejection messages from Schidume I tried to contact her to try to make sense of what I was told, but since my initial complaint I have recieved absolutely no correspondence from airbnb. My contract as a photographer now seems to be terminated after I asked them to do so, yet they haven’t even had the decency to tell me so themselves through a quick email. Instead I simply don’t have the facility to accept jobs on my portfolio anymore.

      This is a hardly the way a hugely successful global company should be treating its clients and photographers. Thanks people for sharing your shocking expiences of working for these clowns and keep them coming so that there is an easily found resource on the web that actually lets the world know how this shady business operates.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      • Don

        Believe me when I say I appreciate getting the chance to know that there are others who have found the experience confusing. You also inspired me to put up a link of advice for people who are still willing to do this. Some of the points I already made here, but others I felt that weren’t as relevant. I know for some neophytes to the business this may seem like a good step up–and if you’re expanding your portfolio then maybe it will be–but there’s a fair number of factors that people won’t be able to read about between the lines.

        https://plus.google.com/u/0/112260766786411719624/posts/4pbvFUnFBVi

        I should also note that it seems a good number of the reverse-engineered sites are now jumping on the photography bandwagon too. I already saw ads for 99flats a month or two ago looking for shooters in New York, and I think I recently saw another asking around as well. I am unfamiliar with how consistent they are, but if they’re borrowing from a similar model then I doubt it to be much better.

        April 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

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  6. Kevin K.

    zootshooter and Don: This is all very disappointing (wait…no… I am pissed!).

    Airbnb keeps telling me that I’ll get paid soon, but I still have yet to see $0.01. And none of my photos appear to have even been reviewerd – none have been approved or rejected.

    Is there any hope of me ever receiving payment?

    I have contacted all seven of the clients of the properties I shot, explained the situation, and told them to contact customer service.

    Airbnb has been around for a few years, so they don’t seem like some fly-by-night organization, but they sure aren’t treating their photographers right.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    • Don

      Hey Kevin,

      If it makes you feel better: before I was terminated, all of my listings were reviewed in one fell swoop. Hopefully it’ll be soon for you as well.

      If that doesn’t work, then tell the clients to do like the one I spoke about: have them contact Airbnb demanding why it’s taking so long for their listings to show. While they can’t really do much for you, they will have to at least look over the shots to list them live for the sake of keeping their customer happy. Everyone wins as a result, imo.

      April 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

  7. Kevin K.

    Fortunately, I reside in California, so I can take Airbnb to court if I have to.

    April 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  8. artylu

    I did decide to quit working for Airbnb today. I am glad I found your blog, and realized I was not alone in having trouble with them.

    Hi —to the photo editors at Airbnb,

    I have been reading the blogs by some unhappy photographers who have tried to work at Airbnb.
    After reading all of the complaints, I have decided it is not worth the effort at this time, to edit the
    one job that I did 3 weeks ago.

    I am guessing that Airbnb had a really great idea about having
    professional photographers do the photos, however, I am guessing that you didn’t anticipate the
    actual costs that were involved in providing this service. If I was one of the owners, I would discontinue
    this photo service asap, because it is giving Airbnb overall a bad name, and it is truly ruining a once
    shining image.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  9. Kevin K.

    artylu,

    It’s unfortunate that things have turned out this way. If Airbnb would stick to their end of the deal, this would be a nice side job.

    Please tweet, Facebook, and G+ this blog around the interweb so others can see.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

  10. Thanks very much to everybody for sharing your thoughts and experiences of working as a freelance photographer for Airbnb. Thanks for your post Don detailing the many troubles of working for this company, hopefully it will at least let people know what they’re in for if they do decide to throw caution to the wind and work for a company that have no qualams about not paying you for work that you’ve carried out without even having the common decency to give you a proper reason for not doing so. Thanks Kevin K for the shout out for this post and I hope that you have better luck getting money out of airbnb than I did.

    I’m also glad to see that reading this post can help people such as yourself Artylu to come to the sensible conclusion that it’s not worth working for airbnb under their current contracts that are so hopelessly weighed against freelance photographers such as ourselves.

    The more people that read about these experiences then the less likely people are going to take the so called “opportunity” of working for Airbnb. Then Airbnb will be forced to review their recruiting practices and perhaps eventually they might be forced to improve their conduct in dealing with photographers.

    At the minute when I type in Airbnb freelance photgraphy this post is the first thing that comes up on google. This puts anybody scouted by airbnb in a more privileged position than myself 2 months ago when all that I could find out about airbnb phorography were posts by recruiters for the company on photography forums.

    I told airbnb that I was going to badmouth their business practices as much as possible and pointed them towards this post. They haven’t even deemed my complaints and queries worthy of a response in nearly a month now.

    Let’s hope that if enough of us photographers make enough of a noise then airbnb will be forced to start listening.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    • Don

      To be fair, I did also see a post by someone else awhile back about how they were an Airbnb photographer. It was interesting since I think the guy was recruited the same time I was and his post goes from pure jubilance until he casually remarks that he should not be asked to provide any details about working for the website, only to “be careful.”

      http://www.microstockgroup.com/off-topic/airbnb-photographer-job-offer/?wap2

      April 21, 2012 at 2:53 am

  11. Benno

    I have down my first two jobs for AIrbnb and am waiting to get paid. After complaining I have had two emails from them – both identical!
    “Reviews are taking a bit longer now because we have so so many jobs coming in. We have hired a new photo auditor so things should speed up soon. It is taking 7-10 business days at this time
    Thank you for your patience.”
    The client has been complaining to me ( I do feel sorry for her), they want to see their place listed. I rang the UK Airbnb number and got them to deal directly and explain the issues. Why should I be involved? I’m not on the payroll.
    I dont expect to see my money any time soon.

    April 20, 2012 at 11:38 pm

  12. Kevin Key

    Hi everyone,

    I am happy to report that about 45 minutes ago today – exactly 14 days from the photo shoots – Airbnb has approved all 7 photo shoots and created invoices for me. :-) The accounting department _should_ approve the invoices and pay me soon. I will issue an update once that happens.

    They did not reject any of my photo shoots.

    I will post more updates when the PayPal transactions actually post.

    Kevin

    April 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

  13. Kevin Key

    And now payment has been sent – on a Sunday – to my PayPal. My faith in Airbnb has been restored.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:17 am

    • Donnie Shackleford

      Your faith has only been restored until the next time they assign you a job…….then the BS starts over again.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:25 am

      • M. I’m glad to hear you are having a good experience. Mine was terrible and I wouldn’t recommend taking a leap of faith if you are considering going full time with them . It’s a matter of time before you have the same experience as many of us.

        May 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm

  14. Glad to hear that someone got paid Kevin, but surely Airbnb should change their contract and terms and conditions of being a photographer for their company if it takes over double the time that they state for anybody to actually get paid and for clients to get their photographs.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:24 am

    • Tal

      I’m sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience as an Airbnb photographer. We hear you, and we are working to improve the system.

      The bugs related to the tool have already been fixed, we just hired two extra reviewers so that the response time will decrease to 2-5 days by May 1 (it will take approximately two weeks to get through the backlog of shoots that was due to a significant spike in volume), and we’re working on improving the manner in which editorial feedback is provided so that in the future photographers will receive all pertinent feedback in the first edit request.

      April 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      • Don

        Hi Tal, I’m glad the site is seeing some changes to this and I would also like to throw in another piece of advice towards one of your employees.

        This may be my own experience, but from my own and zoot’s experience, I think the site would see a lot more improvement and a lot less negative feedback if you considered inspecting the quality of work with some of the recruiters there. As I have currently seen with other photographers, I have noticed that one particular recruiter:

        -has a tendency to answer inquiries late
        -repeats the same advice using fairly judgmental listing pieces (none of which really abide by the Airbnb Photography Manual). The fact that this person gave zoot email advice that is practically verbatim AND faulty emphasizes this further with me
        -has a defensive slant towards whatever you mention to them

        As a photographer who wants to keep their business relationship strong, I make sure to respond fast and to help any potential client in any way possible to make sure the company I work under looks good in the process. I would consider evaluating their work in the process as well to ensure she is giving the right image of the company. As it stands, I have a feeling there are other terminated photographers who may have felt just as wronged as the people here as a result of this poor support.

        April 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      • Donnie Shackleford

        Tal.the point I would like to make about Airbnb and the way they treat photographers. Airbnb gets someone to join as a photographer, the photographer gets a job assignment the photographer then has to go through the trouble of making the appointment then he has to drive to the job, then drive home, then edit the photos, then send them in only to have them rejected. By the time all is said and done, the photographer ends up working for nothing. What Airbnb is doing is cheating their photographers.

        May 4, 2013 at 2:01 am

  15. Fair enough I hope that you actually succeed in having a functioning method of appraising photographs and of paying freelance photographers some time in the future. However, I saw nothing of the sort in my short time as a freelancer for airbnb. This is the first time that I’ve recieved an apology or indeed any correspondence other than that which I have posted on my site and that I actually recieved nearly a month ago. Perhaps your apology might seem slightly less hollow if it arrived in my email inbox rather than on my public blog, which makes it seem more like a damage limitation exercise in PR rather than a show of any genuine remorse for screwing around so many photographers.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:23 pm

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  18. WP

    Shidume ! from airbnb! I hate her already!
    has been on one of the most harrowing experiences.

    May 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

  19. I know, I’ll be going all against what you are saying. But I have been with AirBnB photography since 3 months now I have not had any major problem, never been rejected and so on (over 40) … Without being mean, it’s maybe because your photos (if the last one were yours) had to be rejected, I might of rejected them, but in the same time not every place looks good.

    About the over exposing, yes I have to agree that they want little overexposed photos, but as you said do it, they are the boss.

    June 2, 2012 at 5:39 am

    • Interesting perspective, yet I don’t think your views are terribly enlightening. Good luck to you if none of your photos have ever gotten rejected, but there are a myriad of reasons why that may be the case and I doubt it’s because your photos are consistently flawless. Perhaps you’ve gotten luckier with the residencies you’ve photographed, perhaps you’ve managed to avoid being audited by idiots like Schidume, perhaps you’re biased because you’re working for airbnb and you’ve been encouraged to praise and defend them, just like I’ve seen done on many different websites already.

      You say you’d have rejected my photos, yet on what grounds exactly? In what way exactly do they contravene airbnb’s policy on photographing residencies?

      I don’t think that they are the greatest photos in the world either, but it’s kind of beside the point isn’t it? If you had read my post you would also have seen Schidume’s inconsistent and entirely illogical attempts to audit my photos. Do you think that’s a good and fair way for a company to treat somebody who has worked for them? I can tell you that I most certainly don’t think its fair to get people to carry out work for you and then refuse to pay them for entirely unconvincing reasons.

      Judging from the responses that I’ve recieved so far, I’m far from alone in being entirely unhappy with how airbnbn treat their photographer, if you’re happy for photographer’s to be exploited so a corporation can make even vaster sums of money, then good luck to you, we’re obviously very different kinds of photographers.

      June 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

    • Donnie Shackleford

      Give it time……….they will start rejecting them. I also did not have a problem for at least 6 months then it was one problem after the other.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

  20. Kevin K.

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to say that I’m still shooting for Airbnb and things have improved considerably since this incident.

    I get paid within a few days of uploading the photos and rarely get any rejections.

    I have no ties to Airbnb other than being a photographer as an independent contractor.

    Doing photography gigs for Airbnb has been a nice way to keep up with my monthly expenses.

    Hope the experience improves for the rest of you.

    -Kevin

    June 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

  21. Hi Kevin,

    I’m glad to hear that things eventually started working out for you with airbnb, but unfortunately I’d still say that photographers that are happy with their experiences with airbnb are still more the exception than the rule. I’d certainly never risk working for them again when there is such a high risk of spending hours photographing a residence, editing the photographs, then using their crappy dysfunctional uploader to send them the pictures only to have them rejected for invalid reasons and get absolutely no reimbursement for all your time. Not even travel expenses. For some bizarre reason airbnb seem to think that if they reject photos it somehow makes the photographer’s travel expenses disappear, or else they simply don’t care about leaving photographers out of pocket. And in all fairness, let’s admit that 50 dollars is a pitiful amount of money to pay a photographer for all the time and effort that working for airbnb demands, especially when there is the risk of getting a terrible auditor and not getting any money whatsoever at the end of the day.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

  22. Don

    Glad to see Airbnb has decided to fix their problems. I will still vouch that it’s got its share of issues with the funding. I hope they finally changed that five job limit since that was the biggest kick in the pants, but I’m happy that things are changing for (hopefully) the better. Considering I’ve started getting more assignments that are paying me well enough to keep my equipment up-to-date, I can’t complain about getting the pink slip.

    I also want to add that I just received a message from the client that I was fired for. Apparently, they never received the message that I was forwarded from Shidume that stated that they were getting another client to help them. They’re also still wondering what happened to the material that I took for them and that the company still has no idea what was the result of this. It seems that miscommunication is still an issue, as per, and I’m glad to see she still works for the company despite this.

    @Camil, I am glad you are having a good time, but I will still say that you should NOT do this job for the money whatwith you are being paid for, though, and think of it more as a paid excuse to expand your portfolio.

    I will say that that year of work I was with them gave me a lot of material to add to it, and I would likely do it again if the opportunity came at that same time, but nowadays it’s just not worth it for me with respect to what is down my pipeline at the moment. I hope you keep showing your creativity without relying on some rather questionable QCers for a much better profit. I suppose most importantly though, I hope you guys are at least enjoying it!

    June 5, 2012 at 1:51 am

  23. I did read your post…

    But I even after repeating everything again and again on your part, you says that I like to be payed by a big corporation and basing from what you wrote, the job may be a little underpay, but of what I have reed you are talking about the hours you take for each assignment, I don’t know about transportation in your area so I can’t judge, I would call my self luck since I have been able to do every traveling under 30 minutes bike ride. But calling it hours of work is a bit overkill because, yes at your first shoots it may take longer, but ones you get it, you can do a shoot in 15 and edit in 5. It is not a main job, but it fills your month. I may understand that a bad experience always sets a bad impression of a employer, but I still know it not as bad, it might also be because of improve they have done.

    FIY : No I have not been asked to defend them, as you may know Photographer only represent AirBnB in front of host. I’m just trying to add my grain of salt, because you carry completely different perspective of it and I tough, I could add that it is maybe not a generalized bad experience for photographers.

    June 5, 2012 at 6:37 am

    • I can’t really see how I’m repeating everything again and again in fairness, and I certainly do welcome other people’s experiences of working for airbnb, and I’m glad that other photographers are having better experiences than I ever had with airbnb.

      You did say that you’d have rejected my photos though, and you still haven’t told me exactly why. Airbnb should have a set of guidelines that mean they take an objective view of all the photographs that adhere to the guidelines that they themselves set. Instead, they have an inept set of auditors who take a subjective view of photographs submitted that means there is a huge amount of variation in what actually gets accepted.

      This seems like a very shoddy way to do business to me, especially if it means that people who do work for airbnb might not get paid for work that they’ve completed well.

      You also say that you have been able to cycle to each of your listings, which is good for you. In a sparsely populated country like Ireland, with poor public transport, and with airbnb residences spread out over a large area, it can be very expensive and time consuming to get anywhere outside a city centre without a car.

      In my case i paid 15 euros for a return ticket on the bus and still had to get picked up at the bus stop by the hosts and driven for another 10 mins to their place. Because the photos were then rejected I lost that money and the hosts spend their afternoon driving me around to absolutely no benefit to anyone.

      You also say that you can photograph a listing in 15 mins and edit in 5. That seems completely unbelievable to me, but if you can do it then good luck to you. In my case I used a tripod for every shot and it was also quite a large house and I spent 3 hours all in all getting transport out to the listing, taking the photos, and then returning home. Then i had to edit the photos, deal with an uploader that constantly crashed and then had to run around in circles trying to speak to anybody to sort out my many problems getting paid.

      Nobody at airbnb even signed off on any correspondence that I recieved from them. What kind of a company doesn’t even tell an employee who they are talking to?

      I think it’s absolute madness to work for airbnb for the money and I can’t see how it could be of much financial benefit to anyone, and I would only ever work for airbnb for the experience and adding to my portfolio.

      I also don’t think that airbnbn’s race to the bottom in paying photographers the absolute minimum amount does the industry as a whole any good whatsoever.

      June 5, 2012 at 11:43 am

  24. Anyone shooting in 15 minutes and editing in 5 is either a genius, or useless. I would sumise that even AirBNB understands that some locations will require them to take what they can get and be happy. In others areas the competition is good enough for them to be choosy. No matter how you portray it AirBNB is a rights grabbing company that does not realize that quality photography is not a facebook like concept. They are the model of the company you should never work for.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  25. mil

    Hi Everyone :)

    I was just looking around to see if there is anybody out there taking pictures for airbnb… So my story is that I was recruited over a month now and did 14 listings. I’m based in a southern Poland city :) Twice my works have been rejected (one by Shidume ;)) and yes… they are lightness freaks no question about it… but hey… most of us do our own things, the way we like it. They are customer, paying maybe not crazy money but monthly it is something. I don’t mind making my pictures really really light what I would not do in my normal interior shoot routine. I always email the place, that the shoot will take up to one hour. Normally it takes 40-60min… The postproduction takes the same time. Funny, that as I hear they pay the same money everywhere? 50EUR? In two hours… why not.

    The only thing is that probably they are really messy, once, when my photos where rejected (by not – Shidume) the person wrote if I got a sample pack (I don’t remember what was the name of this but I understood that there is something like this that you can see what they want in the pictures) and I wrote that I didin’t and if she could send me… no further answers to that subject :) But… in my situation I don’t need that that much…

    https://www.airbnb.pl/rooms/737893 sooooo much light ;)

    take care, be cool :)

    mil

    November 22, 2012 at 9:35 am

  26. Hello Everyone,

    I recently left my position as a contractor with airbnb and was glad to find this stream. I really makes me feel better about by terrible experience with them. I’ve been shooting architectural photos full time for about ten years now and feel that I’ve gotten very good at adapting to clients personal taste in images. With airbnb it was a moving target and there desire to have wildly overexposed images was impossible for me to consistently do. IN the new guidelines they released a few weeks ago they asked not to meter windows rather to room. The also state that they don’t care if the widows are blow out as long as it doesn’t consume the who photo. And the photo link they used as samples of what they want to see would be quickly rejected by any of my other clients (they really are terrible, one even has the camera in the bathroom mirror) This goes against everything I’ve spent years learning and requires extensive manual override of the camera’s setting to achieve. I also encountered several cases where the auditor’s would directly contradict themselves depending on who it was. I have many more complaints but I will wait until they compensate me for my work and decide whether to move fwd with litigation. I am usually not one to complain and did my best without but It really was a horrible and degrading experience that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

    December 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

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  28. Rob

    I would like to write a little in defense of Airbnb…

    What ‘you’ think is a good picture may not be what ‘your client’ wants.

    The Airbnb photographer training manual clearly lists what is and what isn’t acceptable.

    I have been working as a freelance photographer for Airbnb for around a year. When I started, my first few shoots had a few rejected images. I re-edited them “as requested” “following instruction” “from the client” and they were accepted.

    If you can follow instruction, there should be no problems with eh images.
    If I was worlds best room photographer but it my client wants me to shoot it standing on my head then that is how I will do it. I wouldn’t tell my client what they want.

    January 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    • Mike

      I actually agree with providing what the client wants. But when you have a client that wants something, they customarily pay for it. The amount you are getting from AirBNB in no way conceivable can be construed as being worth the amount of work involved. You are essentially paying AirBNB and the client for the privilege to do photography. I can stand on my head if the price is right, otherwise I am just a fool standing on my head.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    • Mike

      Then again most folks that pay real money for photography are aware they hired a pro and are less apt to ask for things that would hurt their bottom line. As a pro part of my job is to make you money.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    • Mike

      The example being a company hiring a photographer to shoot commercial for an ad campaign. they are paying thousands of dollars so they can make tens of thousands.

      January 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

  29. M.

    Hi all, this post is old, but still high in the google rankings and I stumbled on it actually looking up something completely different.
    I must say I’m quite puzzled to hear so many bad experiences, when mine has been very pleasant and smooth like butter so far.

    I have been working for Airbnb for about two years. I’m very busy with my real job, so I didn’t do many shootings for them. I often end up rejecting jobs that are in places hard to reach/if the drive is long as often I just don’t have time, or when I need a break (and I’d like you to find any job where you can tell your boss “Sorry, today I don’t feel like working”).

    I did about a dozen shootings and had fun almost each time (I do it for the fun, not really for the money), especially now that I have also promotional materials to give out, making the whole process more professional (I even got a nice t-shirt from the Airbnb team).

    At the beginning I had few problems, similar to yours, got old shootings for places that were not available anymore/host wasn’t interested any longer and so on. Can happen, wasted few cents in phone calls, so what. Ever though this was a test to see whether you’re a patient professional os someone looking fow easy bucks?

    After that I started getting consistently good jobs. All my shootings have been accepted from the start within days, got always paid promptly and yes, communications could be faster, but they were not so slow as in your cases (I just had to take into account the time zone difference) and most of the times the information I got was what I needed, nothing more, nothing less. I must say I did ask for feedback after my first shootings and got none. No critics, no “the next time please do this or that”. I would have appreciated to know what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong, as this was my first experience in this kind of photrography. Yes, at the beginning the uploader was a pita, but they fixed it.
    I must say I might just got lucky and that anytime I might run into trouble, but as of today, I’m happy about the join venture with Airbnb.

    I certainly agree with you about the overexposure, I have to force myself into “doing a mistake” and push the image more than I normally would. But the target of these pictures aren’t pixel peeping pro photographers, the target are people looking for a nice room for their next trip. Moreover, you have some degree of freedom, which you wouldn’t have if they’d tell you that black must be 0 and white 255; no clipping allowed etc…
    And maybe I feel like cheating on my images, making small dark room look spacey and bright overexposing and using an UWA corrected in PP and my girlfriend never misses a chance to point that out when she looks over my shoulder when I do the editing, but you don’t go telling a paying client what they want. You do what they tell you to, end of story. Ever got into a restaurant where you oredered a well done steak and they told you “Sorry Sir, but we don’t cook your steak well done, it tastes better when done rare.” or tried to buy a yellow shirt and they told you “sorry Sir, but you will buy the blue shirt.”?
    You’re supposed to be an accomodating professional photographer, not a whimsy artist.

    I agree with you that the pay is not stellar, but hey, you signed a contract. You either complain before doing it, or you don’t. The shooting takes less than an hour (usually 30 to 45 min), the editing slightly longer, depending on how good you are/how fast your computer is.
    And if it takes you too long to edit the images, maybe it’s time to read some tutorials on how to do it, maybe learn to use LightRoom and its presets system.
    Further more, a pro photographer would know how much work to shoot/edit a listing would take before accepting the job. Complaining about the money means not knowing the job and having signed hoping for easy money, plain simple.

    By the way, I ALWAYS got paid extra when the job was further away than the miles written in my contract.

    Truth be told, I’d work for Airbnb full time if this would be possible and dump my other job! :D

    March 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

  30. Ra

    Same exact thing happened to me! Airbnb sucks big time. Those people reviewing the photos don’t know a single thing about photography D:

    May 27, 2013 at 11:43 am

  31. (Thank you rounds are always welcome, of course. Brazenhead
    is a great place to go with your family or for a business
    lunch or dinner, but if you are looking for a party atmosphere, this isn’t it. The food is decent and the drink specials on Tuesdays include $2.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm

  32. Hi Guys,

    Im really appalled and shocked at the treatment of some of the photographers on here. I too have had alot of problems with my photographs being rejected by airbnb for complete idiotic reasons. I think there photography ‘reviewers’ are very confused in what is needed and I actually caught them out as I sent them a photograph and asked them to explain what the problem was with the photograph. They said it was ’tilt’ issues and curvature. the actual photograph was from there own photography manual.

    Ive been had threatening emails from one particular photography reviewer, had money withheld and not once given a valid reason. This one particular photography reviewer is now the only one consistently rejecting my photographs even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them.

    their treatment towards their photographers is an absolute disgrace.

    June 27, 2013 at 7:08 am

  33. Also can anyone help me in who to contact within Airbnb to take this matter further? I feel like Ive been actually targeted by one specific photography reviewer who is making my life hell. Shidume does absolutely nothing and I feel its deeply unfair their able to get away with this behavior.

    June 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    • Destinye

      I have done 12 shoots in a year and had to edit quite a few photos, but the last one they wanted me to reshoot, and I resubmitted another set of photos and am waiting to hear back. But they were very inconsistent in their criticisms and it’s a long way to go back, so I am deciding whether to leave or stay. Initially they were obsessed with more exposure then they suddenly decided things were over-exposed, but really they looked the same. Now I made a big deal about re-shooting I think they are going to make me go (or quit) on principle, but I did take a lot of shots. The place was kind of a mess (decor etc) and I tried to make it look it’s best, and it looked like a cozy cabin, which it was. They really should trust the photographer to show off the space to it’s best advantage not just have the same format and style whatever the space. I have enjoyed the work but I don’t have the time or energy to redo everything over and over.

      July 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

  34. John

    Ive been working for them for a couple of years and had no problems. The pay is probably a little low but Im in SE Asia so its actually quite good for me and I dont mind fixing up a few rejects for them.

    June 28, 2013 at 9:21 am

  35. John

    well actually they are threatening to fire me. there problem is that the reviewers are generally ignorant. for example they have asked me to straighten photos which when put in photoshop with a grid are perfectly straight, so I just put the same photo up and they accept it, or you will get one reviewer that want your photos blownout so the next lot you submit you do the same way and that reviewer says they are too blown out, they all have diffirent tastes. often I have the same photos in two listings of the same place and one reviewer will say they are great and the other reviewer wants changes. anyway the effect is they they look at your record and if you have rejections they send you a letter threatening to fire you because you dont meet their style standands. If I didnt need the income I will tell them to lump it

    July 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

  36. Don

    Hey, I haven’t looked at this in awhile and I’m surprised to even see this post still get so much attention to this day.

    Just wanted to remark to this:
    “And maybe I feel like cheating on my images, making small dark room look spacey and bright overexposing and using an UWA corrected in PP and my girlfriend never misses a chance to point that out when she looks over my shoulder when I do the editing, but you don’t go telling a paying client what they want.”

    I want to point out to be careful about that as that was one of the reasons listed why I was fired. Personally, I think it was because I was becoming too noisy about how poorly run their system was, but hey, they do what they do.

    Anyway, glad you’re making something out of it and not dealing with clients who wanted more than what they told you the first time around!

    September 27, 2013 at 5:03 am

  37. Destinye

    I have been working for Airbnb for a year and done 16 shoots, I am going to quit because now one particular *curator* keeps wanting me to reshoot, other times I have no or a couple of edits. The first time I did have words with the person and waited to see what would happen next time she got to review my work (having done 3 shoots in between with no problems) and she told me I have to reshoot (this is the second time and I reassigned it – but there are no other photographers in the area). It has been fun and it is a second *fun* job for me, not like you will get rich from it lol. But for $50 and to have this level of stringency I mean come on! I didn’t mind editing or correcting things and have learned a lot but now it is getting ridiculous (and I think personal) so am going to quit as soon as my final two shoots are reviewed, hopefully by someone else! It’s upsetting as I have really enjoyed it, and also there is nobody else in this whole area so people have been waiting for their *free* photography for a year or two and are very happy to see me and their photos on the website too.

    October 14, 2013 at 8:11 pm

  38. Nothing much has changed.

    I emailed Airbnb yesterday. I won’t be doing any more work for them. I have had enough of their rude automated emails threatening me with a lower priority for any further work, just because I haven’t entered a shoot date within two days of accepting the job. This isn’t something that is under my control; until the host agrees a time and day, I cannot enter a shoot date. This nearly always takes more than two days, no matter how promptly I contact the host.

    To add insult to injury, Airbnb are not paying me on time. Not that it’s enough anyway. I’ve had to wait over a month recently. Well, I’ve now been paid for the last job I did so when they were rude this time (the host had not confirmed the shoot date within the two days) I sent my last email.

    I’ve been offered jobs further and further from home, so I think that they are running short of photographers in my part of England. I’m not surprised.

    October 3, 2014 at 10:48 pm

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